First-of-its-Kind Center for Creativity Opens in Five Points

The first phase of ArtPark Community Hub, a new creative center in the Five Points neighborhood for innovation, education, small business and community building, is now complete. Located at 35th Street and Arkins Court in Denver, the $4.5 million ArtPark is an adaptive reuse project built by RiNo Art District, a 501(c)(6) nonprofit grassroots arts organization. The project is designed by local architecture firm Tres Birds. Through a lease of two former City of Denver-owned buildings, RiNo Art District is responsible for the renovation, build-out, fundraising, activation and programming for these buildings in a way never before seen in a public park in Colorado. 

Outdoor space

“ArtPark is a true labor of love, and the result of years of collaboration between public, private and nonprofit partners in our community,” said John Deffenbaugh, projects director with RiNo Art District. “We’ve taken buildings that were slated for demolition and did what we do best here in the Art District: we got creative. Together, we turned it into an empowering space for everyone in our community.”

The new creative center features sound studios, conference rooms, a tool library and workshop, performing arts and event spaces, as well as the first-of-its-kind branch of Denver Public Library. The new branch library will offer 7,000 square feet of public space for people of all ages to connect and learn. The flexible nature of the space will allow the library to activate the branch in a variety of ways, in partnership with the community organizations co-located at the facility. 

“Our location at ArtPark is rooted in our values of welcoming everyone, fostering curiosity, strengthening connection, challenging inequity and honoring the public trust,” said Anne Kemmerling, Denver Public Library director of neighborhood services. “Expanding our services in this area of Denver has long been a goal of ours, and we’re so thankful for the partnerships that made this possible. To our knowledge, no other public library in the country has engaged in an arts-focused community partnership like this one. We’re leading the way in bringing together learning, education, and the arts with our collaboration at ArtPark.”

ArtPark will additionally be home to a new food-and-beverage incubator from Focus Points Family Resource Center, similar to their popular Comal Heritage Food Incubator concept. 

“Our new location at ArtPark, CoCuA, will serve as a hub for cultural exchange and a welcoming community for individuals looking to grow their small food-service operations,” said Matthew Vernon, director of Social Enterprise for Focus Points Family Resource Center. “Similar to our approach with our first social enterprise, Comal Heritage Food Incubator, the program at CoCuA is being developed based on community feedback. What we’ve heard is that there is a need for affordable commissary kitchen space, which CoCuA will offer to Cole, Five Points and GES residents at a significantly lower-than-market rate.” 

Putting the art in ArtPark, RedLine Contemporary Art Center will have a satellite location on the campus where they will manage eight affordable artist studios that will be subleased to local artists. RedLine will also develop new artist-driven programs that will be informed by the studio collective, park partners and neighborhood.

Fundraising is still underway for phase two of the project, which will involve the adaptive reuse of a second building on the site. RiNo Art District will host a weekend of celebrations Sept. 24-26 to mark the grand opening, including several free, family-friendly events and a ticketed fundraiser to support the ongoing ArtPark capital campaign. 

Photos courtesy of Scott Colby

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